Like stats? Like winning? I went a bit crazy with the Basketball-reference.com Play Index, and came up with seven peeks under the skin of the terrifying winning machine that is our Spurs. You already know that Manu is unstoppable and Splitter is a beautiful, beautiful man, but don't you want to revel in the details? How could you resist?
Tiago Splitter hasn't exactly exploded the NBA yet, but Spurs fans have seen solid defense and efficient offense in his limutes. One thing he's already doing at an elite level is getting to the line. Only eighteen players in the league shoot more free throws per minute than Tiago, and all of them attempt more field goals to draw them. Only one player takes fewer shots to generate that kind of FT opportunity. Now Splitter just needs to start making them.
- Matt Bonner has taken one-dimensional offense to a new extreme. Like James Jones of Miami, Bonner is feasting on the open looks and has trimmed his game down to threes and nothing else. Only once in a full season has a player combined as many threes with as few turnovers like these two are doing through twenty-two games. Jones and Bonner are on pace to join... uh... goober-lookin' 6'10 forward Matt Bullard. Weird.
The Matt Bonner of the 90s. B3 - Bullard Before Bonner. Bonner 0.6, Beta Version.
- Bonner isn't the only thee point specialist on this team. Gary Neal and James Anderson are already among the leaders in 3 point makes per minute.
- Another guy on that list is Manu Ginobili, who has improved his efficiency tremendously with the three. Manu's not shooting threes or twos better than in years past, but he's shooting more 3-pointers and free throws and fewer two-point attempts. The net effect is a rise in his TS% to 62 percent, a career high if it holds. It's also the third-best among primary options in the NBA today, close behind another hated-everywhere international player on a hot team.
- If there's anything more we want out of Richard Jefferson (this also holds true for Matt Bonner) it's for him to get more touches and shots, because he cannot miss right now. RJ is even more efficient than Manu with a TS% of 64 percent and almost half as many turnovers per possession, but he accounts for only 17.5% of our offense (Manu shoulders a team-high 26.1%). Just maintaining his current numbers would make the first season ever for this mix of efficiency and usage.
"So apparently, according to the stats, if you pass me the ball, I'm more likely to score than you. Comprende, Manu?"
- ESPN, in the form of Bill Simmons, again addressed the 'decline' of Tim Duncan, this time in the context of the MVP race. Apparently his efficiency is fading, probably due to age, in contrast to eternals like KG. This is ridiculous. Tim's minutes and shot attempts are down and his offensive rebounding is up. Beyond that, his numbers are as steady as ever in scoring efficiency, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.
- 2011 Tim still compares favorably to Garnett's seasons in Boston - Kevin has better shooting percentages, but a smaller role in the offense and fewer assists, blocks, and offensive rebounds.
- Dejuan Blair looks amazing on paper. His shooting slump is largely over, and there was never a drop in his rebounding performance. His new-found ability to come up with steals might be a fresh wrinkle on his game, an effect of the team defense or just an oddity caused by the small sample size. Either way we are blessed with a variety of players who are on rookie or cheapie contracts and performing at a big-money level.
Now you know eight things you hopefully had too much of a life to be familiar with. In the next installment I'm planning on looking at the team stats for the young season, and identify strengths and weaknesses relative to the league and Spurs champions past. If you have them please append suggestions, requests, or venomous attacks on the huge nerd of an author below.